An Oregon school with no school buses

Bus service to W.L. Henry Elementary School in Hillsboro, Oregon was cut in 2009 due to budget constraints.

“It has had a negative impact on our students,” according to Marianna Roman a Hispanic outreach coordinator at the school.

All students live within a mile of the school, which is why under current state law they are ineligible to be reimbursed by the state for the cost of busing.

Losing bus service created an inconvenience and also added one more barrier for families already struggling. W.L. Henry Elementary is identified as one of the nation’s highest poverty schools. More than three-quarters of its students are English Language Learners.

How do students get to school now? In most cases, they walk.

A mile may not seem like much, but for kindergarteners, it’s a walk traversed on streets with no sidewalks and speeding cars. During the school year, the walk to school is made on mornings that are often foggy, dark and raining. Students sometimes arrive late, cold and wet. Many times, they lack appropriate clothing because access to proper gear just isn’t an option due to family budget constraints.

Just as a hungry student has trouble focusing, it’s equally difficult when they are cold and wet from a walk in inclement weather. Last fall, the school put out a reminder about staying safe due to recent accidents with children walking to school.

The option to walk or bike to school can be beneficial. But in the case of W.L. Henry Elementary, it simply isn’t safe.

Earlier this month, parents from W.L. Henry Elementary shared their safety concerns with the Oregon Legislature in a letter to the House Committee on Education.

They wrote: “Since children are walking to school alone, even the youngest kindergarten students, we worry about their ability to appropriately walk to school. …Our streets lack sidewalks in some places and adequate street lights. Cars often go faster than the speed limit and do not follow pedestrian traffic laws. Some of the younger students do not know how to safely cross streets. While most students know to push the flashing crosswalk light, many cars choose not to stop. Residents of the area often fail to look for students when backing out of their driveways. There have been numerous reports of children almost being hit by a car, and parents and others that walk students to school have been hit by cars.”

Their school faces a high rate of chronic absenteeism, with many missing more than 10% of the school year as defined by Oregon standards. This rate is higher neighboring Eastwood Elementary, a school comparable in its student makeup and federal classification as a high-poverty school. The main difference between the two? Eastwood Elementary has bus service. “We know kids are falling through the cracks, and this [lack of busing] is another reason,” said Roman.

“…On December 7th and 14th, when temperatures were in the 20s, attendance decreased by 89%. …Providing transportation for our students would improve their health, safety and attendance,” shared Principal Lisa Aguilar.

Funding transit services to meet increasing demand and to connect communities, as well as providing safe walking and biking routes to schools for kids, are urgent transportation needs for Oregon.

The experience of families at W.L. Henry Elementary provides insight into exactly why safe routes to school and funding for transit services should be among state legislators’ top transportation priorities this year.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Transportation Solutions Featured Air Quality Climate Protection Policy OEC News/Updates/Events Living Green Toxics-Free Environments OEC Membership Water News
Sort by

TriMet moves to buy electric buses, diesel free by 2040

Today, the TriMet Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution to begin buying electric buses and to be completely diesel-free by 2040. We applaud TriMet for committing to transform its dirty diesel fleet to a modern electric fleet that greatly reduces life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, eliminates air pollution at the tailpipe, and saves the agency money.


Act now for clean buses tomorrow

Very soon (in September 2018), Oregon’s biggest user of diesel fuel will make a decision. Will TriMet invest in the cleanest buses for the future? Your comments can make a difference. Here are the details:
September 11, 2018, 9:54 pm


Oregon Environmental Council: Andrea Durbin to transition to City of Portland leadership

After 12 years with OEC, Durbin will head the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability FOR
February 22, 2019, 5:32 pm


Stepping Up Efforts to Reduce Plastic Pollution in Oregon

By Belinda McFadgen, OEC Volunteer. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.” That’s how our friends at Environment Oregon describe the problem of pollution from straws, bags, take-out containers and other single-use plastics. And now, after 14 commu
February 19, 2019, 2:07 pm


New report: Oregon fails on diesel

This month, Oregon’s cross-agency team of experts made it very clear: None of our current efforts to reduce diesel pollution have worked, or will work, to meet our state’s goals for protecting human and environmental health. “Diesel emissions impacts to human health and the environment are not being adequately addressed by the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] or through Toxics Reduction Strategy planning.” This matter-of-fact statement, and details about Orego
January 30, 2019, 6:21 pm


Oregon’s Future Depends on You!

Did you know that Oregon Environmental Council launched its biggest and boldest fundraising campaign in 2017 to accelerate our progress to protect clean air, clean water and act on climate change? Our goal is to raise $15 million over three years and thanks to our foundation partners and generous
January 28, 2019, 8:39 pm


22 milestones for Oregon in 2018

Oregon Environmental Council has a bold agenda for 2019, but before we jump ahead we pause to reflect and to express our gratitude to the extraordinary community partners, civic leaders, board members and donors who stood up for a better Oregon for all. We celebrate and share these important milestones in creating a healthier environment for all Oregonians.January: Home Energy Score ordinance takes effect.
December 20, 2018, 9:37 pm


Oregon Values Held Strong on the 2018 Ballot

Oregon Environmental Council staff and board are feeling both grateful and energized to see how Oregonians voted on critical ballot measures in the 2018 midterm election. With 69.06% of eligible voters turning out across the state, Oregonians stood by healthy and
November 13, 2018, 7:52 pm


Oregonians attend DEQ hearing to speak against EPA rollbacks

Dozens of concerned Oregonians left messages of opposition to proposals that would reverse environmental standards that protect our climate from greenhouse gases and communities from harmful air pollution during a public gathering in Portland. Organized by the
October 24, 2018, 4:33 pm


Oregon’s proposed law shields the state from federal rollbacks

Gov. Brown proposes to enshrine Clean Air and Clean Water Act protections into law
October 3, 2018, 9:22 pm


No Replies to "An Oregon school with no school buses"

    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK